Investigación Artículo

Creating New Constraints: Toward a Theory of Writing as Digital Translation

Translation and translation issues are among the most fundamental issues in any writing practice or theory and no writer can avoid addressing them. Countless theories and methods have given birth to no less countless ideas and speculations, best and worst practices, illuminatingly simple and deceivingly complex outcomes, as well as dead ends and springboards to the endless process of rereading and rewriting texts in and between all kinds of languages –and more and more also between all kinds of media, for it is now generally accepted that the whole field of adaptation also belongs to the larger field of translation (and not the other way around). Yet most of these debates still have certain implicit starting points that the text by Mencía, Pold and Portela rightly challenge. Obviously, these issues have to do no longer with «fidelity» (of the target text to the source text) or the restriction of the translation process to merely linguistic aspects (as if images did not raise any translation problem, for example). They touch instead on topics such as the exclusion of certain aspects of the text’s mediality and materiality, which are not seen as part of the translation problem, and, more generally, the cultural and historical dimension of this mediality and materiality. When the text under scrutiny is an electronic text – that is, a textual production that cannot be separated from a certain number of text-programming constraints at the level of both software and hardware – it becomes clear that we can no longer ignore this complexity, which is not only that of digital texts, but of any text whatsoever. The essay by Mencía, Pold and Portela is then a crucial contribution to a new theory and practice of translation, one that’s capable of taking into account a broader set of aspects and criteria that force us to reshape our very thinking of what translation is.

Autor/a Jan Baetens
Revista o publicación Electronic Book Review